Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine flu: 6 cases here in Washington

Speaking of Swine Flu!

The elementary school 2 blocks away from Bubble (Shea's speech therapist) has been closed down due to a confirmed case of Swine Flu.

Friday is our usual day to go in.

I am really tempted to keep a nice big moat between us and this illness.

Question:

Am I a chicken shit?

The inevitable joke

If asked 100 years ago, if an African American man would ever be elected president, the answer would have been: When pigs fly.

Look! 100 years later. Barack Obama is president and Swine Flu (flew)

Ar-ar-ar-d-ar-ar!

Sorry.

I just had to share!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Opposites

I have been playing the Opposites word game with Shea lately.

You know:

Me: Shea, what is the opposite of tall?

Shea: Little

Me: Yes, or how about short.

We go through it a few times and he will get it. Repetition. Repetition.

Some are easy for him:

Me: Black

Shea: White

Some really surprised me:

Me: Opposite of forward

Shea: Backward

I was delighted that he could get that one.

Then tonight:

Me: Opposite of sweet

Shea: Icky

Ha! There is that family sweet tooth!

Me: Opposite of no

Shea: On

Interesting that he must have seen "no" in his mind and reversed the letters and read it back to me.

Pretty cool that his reading is coming on so well. And, vocabulary.

Enunciation is still the tough one.

Swine flu: to panic or not to panic?

The words are on everyone's lips. Nobody really seems to know how serious it is. Folks in Texas, California and now New York are understandably cautious and concerned but up here in the NW corner?

I went to get chicken food yesterday at the local Horse Supple place. I love this place; there are turkeys roaming around, 4 generations of the mellowest, kindest blond labs owning the place, horses, an aviary. Basically, it is like going to a wacky little zoo and Shea loves it.

While chatting and paying for my stuff. The proprietor said, "A doctor was just in and she says this Swine Flu stuff is the real deal. Better go right now to the hardware store and get some masks. Better safe than sorry."

Now, bless his heart for caring. And, frankly I do not want to pooh-pooh this serious threat. Especially when I read of the first death of a US citizen had occurred on Monday. Sadly, so very sadly a 23 month old child. My thoughts go out to that child's family, what a tragic loss.

So, pooh-pooh, I will not. But panic? I won't do that either.

Yesterday, I was listening to the Ron Reagan Show on Air America. Yes, that Ron Reagan, or at least his son who is a strong lefty progressive and has a radio show.

He had a respected doctor on to take caller questions about the Swine Flu. The gist was: don't panic. Be aware but, for god sake, don't panic. It seems to be a milder case here in the states and Europe or that people are taking better care of it sooner. They do not know why the Mexico cases are so serious but have a tri-country commission working on it down there (Canada, US, Mexico)

If you feel flu-y, do not panic. Do all the things that you would normally do. Don't let you kids go to school, rest, fluids, Tylenol to keep the fever down. Stay home.

Also, there were some "just basic" how to deal with germs info I found as a helpful reminder. If you sneeze in public, sneeze into the crook of your arm. Wash your hands frequently especially if you have been out and about shaking hands.

Take care of yourself so you don't get sick. Get enough sleep, drink lots of water, don't eat a bunch of crap, get a little exercise. Basically: take care of yourself.

A for goodness sake; don't panic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jasmine: a dog gives back

In 2003, police in Warwickshire , England , opened a garden shed and found a whimpering, cowering dog. It had been locked in the shed and abandoned. It was dirty and malnourished, and had clearly been abused.


In an act of kindness, the police took the dog, which was a Greyhound female, to the nearby Nuneaton Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, run by a man named Geoff Grewcock and known as a willing haven for Animals abandoned, orphaned or otherwise in need. Geoffand the other sanctuary staff went to work with two aims to restore the dog to full health, and to win her trust.. It took several weeks, but eventually both goals were achieved...


They named her Jasmine, and they started to think about finding her an adoptive home.


But Jasmine had other ideas. No-one remembers now how it began, but she started welcoming all animal arrivals at the sanctuary. It wouldn't matter if it was a puppy, a fox cub, a rabbit or any other lost or hurting animal. Jasmine would peer into the box or cage and, where possible, deliver a welcoming lick.


Geoff relates one of the early incidents. "We had two puppies that had been abandoned by a nearby railway line. One was a Lakeland Terrier cross and another was a Jack Russell Doberman cross. They were tiny when they arrived at the centre and Jasmine approached them and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck in her mouth and put him on the settee. Then she fetched the other one and sat down with them, cuddling them."


"But she is like that with all of our animals, even the rabbits. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings.


"She has done the same with the fox and badger cubs; she licks the rabbits and guinea pigs and even lets the birds perch on the bridge of her nose."


Jasmine, the timid, abused, deserted waif, became the animal sanctuary's resident surrogate mother, a role for which she might have been born. The list of orphaned and abandoned youngsters she has cared for comprises five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and 15 rabbits.


And one roe deer fawn. Tiny Bramble, 11 weeks old, was found semi-conscious in a field. Upon arrival at the sanctuary, Jasmine cuddled up to her to keep her warm and then went into the full foster-mom role. Jasmine the greyhound showers Bramble the Roe deer with affection and makes sure nothing is matted.


"They are inseparable," says Geoff. "Bramble walks between her legs and they keep kissing each other.. They walk together round the sanctuary. It's a real treat to see them."


Jasmine will continue to care for Bramble until she is old enough to be returned to woodland life.

When that happens, Jasmine will not be lonely. She will be too busy showering love and affection on the next orphan or victim of abuse.

Issaquah students raise money to free 120 enslaved people

Now, THAT is an education!

From the Seattle Times:

When Eric Ensey traveled to India this year, he shook the hand of a man who was freed from bonded labor by the money his teenage students had raised in Sammamish.

"If you hadn't helped us," the Indian millworker told the American middle-school teacher, "we would have died in the rice mill."

Fundraisers for charity are a staple of school life, but Ensey and his students have taken that work in an unusual direction by raising tens of thousands of dollars to help free enslaved people, many living half a world away.

The teens in this well-to-do suburban area have learned about families working in brick kilns in India and brothels in Cambodia where children their own age — and even younger — are sold into slavery.

"I count my blessings, because they're in such a bad place," said eighth-grader Nellie Hoehl, one of Ensey's students at Pine Lake Middle School.

Last year, three Issaquah district schools — Pine Lake, Issaquah High and Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus — together raised $50,000 for the International Justice Mission (IJM), a Washington, D.C., charity that seeks justice for the poor in developing countries. It's the largest donation the IJM has received from a public-school district, and was used to free about 120 enslaved people.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monsters & Aliens with Nostalgia Sublime

Caught the new Dream Works animation, Monsters & Aliens, over the weekend with the kids.

I liked it. It was a bit....military-ish but fun with a good over all message. Shea really LOVED Bob, the blue blob guy; giggling uncontrollably every time he was visible. I have to agree. He was pretty darn cute and lovable for a one eyed blue blob.

Stephen Colbert makes an appearance via voice over as The President. Who else could he be?

And, anyone who knows me, knows I love anything Colbert, even his latest Patriotic Tune, Blown Away by the USA. But, I have to say even though he was good as the president, I really missed his wacky, smirky face and ultra-flexible eyebrows and hope he doesn't devote too much time to voice over work.

Warning: some potty humor. Just enough to enthrall the tween set.

Ok. Nostalgia Sublime time.

Question:

What early 1980s song makes a brief cameo in Monsters & Aliens just before The President encounters the Alien probe for the first time?

Answer:




I horrified my children and husband by singing it at dinner tonight. Had to pull it up on Youtube to show them how darn cool we really were back then! Proved it by boogying around the living room. Hey...still got it!

1982!!!!! 27 years ago?

What did we do before Youtube?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gluten-free Donuts!!!????

Do you hear the celestial choir singing? No? Well, that is probably because you haven't tried Kinnikinnick Foods Gluten Free, Wheat free, Dairy free, Soy free Donuts yet?

I had heard rumors of these but had never spotted them in my local grocery store until today. Shea happened to be with me so I made the case to him.

Me: Hey look, Shea! Donuts! Do you want to try them?

Shea: Yeah!!! Donuts!!!

Me: Ok then.

He insisted on carrying the box around during the rest of our shopping and kept say, "I love donuts." So, I figured we might as well try these babies out right away.

Sure enough. They are something else! In a very good way.

We got the Cinnamon Sugar today but they had vanilla glazed as well. I have heard additional rumors of a chocolate glazed but they did not have those today.

They come frozen, 6 to a box. Simply pop one into the microwave for about 20 seconds and eat. I always try the Gluten Free products myself just so I have an idea of what I am dishing up for Shea. And, I have got to tell you these donuts are serious yum. They are light with good texture and excellent taste. I would give them a solid "A".

Shea polished off two, boom -boom, in one sitting. They do have eggs in them so we will have to see how that effects Shea.

I am always delighted when I find a new food Shea can eat, that he wants to eat.

Kinnikinnick Donuts, welcome home.

Growing up on the Hood Canal

I call myself a Pacific NW native even though I was born in Billings, MT. My parents moved us, my brother and I, when we were just babies. So, technically I am not but feel like I am.

From 2nd to 7th grade, after my parents got divorced, we lived out on the Hood Canal. A small salt water fjord off the Puget Sound. Small retirement and seasonal communities dotted both sides of the canal with plentiful, pristine, undeveloped forests, creeks and lakes. We lived in a small town called Belfair with "the big city" being Bremerton a good 30 minutes from home. The real big city, Seattle, was 2 hour drive or an hour ferry boat ride from Bremerton.

We lived right on the water which was considered somewhat affluent although we were not wealthy. Our beach had a sand spit which we called "the island". When the tide was out we could walk all the way around and get out there but when the tide came in it would cover the cause way and strand us.

The island created a muddy lagoon that was populated with layer upon, muddy layer of oysters. In the attempt to utilize this bounty, every single oyster recipe known to man was attempted and systematically refused by us kids.

I remember my uncle from New Mexico, standing out in the mud slurping down freshly shucked oysters right off the beach. My bile rose. I could not believe anything or anyone could be so disgusting.

It was only as an adult, with my brother's help that I managed to find one way to eat oysters. By that time, I was a long way from that beach.

S & D's BBQ Oysters:
Smallish, palm sized oysters barbecued whole, naturally opening as they steam, top shell pulled off, dollops of garlic-butter-olive oil-herbs-sun dried tomato (whatever sounds good to you) dropped directly onto the oyster on the half shell and sizzled in that mixture until done. Eaten right out of the shell. Smokey, delicious, not fishy. Heaven!

We had a small boat and would paddle around the lagoon during high tide, fish for bull heads, an ugly little fish used for further bait. Sometimes we might catch a dog fish, a small shark, that scared the heck out of me in those days of Peter Benchley's "Jaws".

But, my fondest memories are playing in the dense, rain forest that surrounded the Canal. All around us there was undeveloped land. Wildlife trails that we would adopt and make wider, small creeks and tributarys that we would dam and make small ponds, climb trees, manipulate branches, brush, ferns to make forts, hideouts and secret spots. Huckleberrys, Nettle, Salmon Berrys, Madrona, Salal, Deer fern, Doug Fir, Fiddle head fern; we knew all these plants by sight and had our own names for them.

We watched Salmon spawn and die. A usual occurrence. We did not know we were watching a miracle of nature. It just made the streams stink in the fall. We thought it a horrible waste that the big fish died each year until someone explained that the decaying fish feeds the water with nutrients for the baby fish and a whole host of other creatures. The circle of life concept.

I never remember an adult being with us. In fact, we would mistrust any adult we encountered out there. There was a "Deliverance" quality about meeting adults in the woods and we would hide. We would make up suspenseful and dangerous reasons why they were out there. Even though they were probably just walking a property line, collecting Salal to sell to florests or surveying. Our own parents certainly never came with us. We must have been gone for hours upon hours and were completely unsupervised. It was our world alone and it seemed like magic.

I often think that we, as parents, try to recreate the happiest times of our own childhood for our kids. Of course, it is impossible but we try anyway. That is probably why I felt so strongly about being able to offer a rural upbringing for my kids. "More trees than cars" is how I put it to the them. I was trying to give them something that was precious to me. Have I succeeded? Hard to say. That is one thing I long to ask them when they are grown.

The times are so different now. We are in a very different place and time. There is very little undeveloped land and even if there was it would be considered "trespassing". They don't have hours upon hours of unsupervised time. These are different days. But, they do know about Salmon spawning and the difference between Huckleberry and Salal and can recognize a Nettle when they see one. There are little hints of similarities but not many. They will have their own.

By the time we moved away from the Hood Canal, puberty had set in. There was little or no future in a small town like that. My girlfriends were getting pregnant very young, partying was really the only thing to do. My mom saw this and got us out and we moved to North Seattle. I like to think "just in time". Who knows what would have happened if we had stayed. I probably would not now have these crystalline images of the joy of being young in that place. My memories would be clouded with the coming of age saga which would shadow those purer, more innocent times.

As adults, we can never really go back. Even though we try.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Supreme Court to rule on student strip search

Deplorable! Hard to even know what to say about this. It is so disgusting.

All for some Advil!!!! There ended up not being any. Of course, by the time they found that out the damage was already done.

Unbelievable! What were they smoking, indeed.

Math is cool but mom sure isn't

Today is the Math is Cool competition.

5th graders from all over the region will meet up and go through a rigorous palate of math challenges testing a wide array of math skills at a centrally located high school off island. Each school groups their 16 participants into teams of 4 who will work together throughout the competition.

The scores are tallied and crunched through an undoubtedly dazzling equation to determine a winner.

How do I know so much about it? I went last year. It was a long afternoon and evening. Parents were not allowed into the challenges except for one instance so much of the time was spent sitting around in the hallways waiting and chatting with other parents.

At the end, we all met in the cafeteria, ate bad pizza and waited for the results. There are different divisions depending on the size of the school. And, when it was called out that our little Vashon school won the 1st place ribbon in our division, there were literal tears of joy.

The bus ride home was like riding a cloud for those kids and I will never, ever forget it. And, it's a good thing because I am not going this year.

I could if my presence was desired. Coincidentally, Bubble has canceled this week for a conference so I am amazingly free today. Very unusual for a Friday. So, I could ride the bus over, hang out all afternoon and ride back.

But, Molly does not want me to go. She says it would be embarrassing. I am not too proud to say that I wheedled a bit. I asked, "But what if Mr. Larson really needs more help?"

She said, "Well, if he really needs the help but I wish you wouldn't." Ouch.

OK. I can respect where she is coming from. She is getting to the age where it is excruciatingly embarrassing to even have parents, let alone an outgoing parent. Heaven forbid! I might actually hug her or say, I love you in front of her peers!

I am a little sad but not really. It is just a sign of her growing up. I have lots of memories where she did want me there. I can hang onto those for a bit.

I just hope that there comes a point when she will want me around again. Then, I will know that we have made it through. Not that it would be the last hurdle. Just one of many.

Go team!

UPDATE: The team came in 1st again this year in our division! They acted kind of nonchalant about it this time. It was a very long day. They left school at 1:30 and did not get back until 11:15 after missing a ferry. I could barely keep my eyes open although Molly was unsurprisingly bouncing off the walls. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Road to Lisdoonvarna played by Molly

video

Congratulations, Mr. President on your first 100 days

As he approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, Barack Obama’s job approval ratings are higher than those of his most recent predecessors. However, the 44th president is even more distinguished by his strong personal popularity. Fully 73% of Americans – including as many as 46% of Republicans – hold a favorable view of Obama as a person. Fewer people held favorable impressions of George W. Bush (61%) and Bill Clinton (60%) early in their first years.

The Fresh Air Fund - host families needed

I was contacted and asked to share information about this worthy cause The Fresh Air Fund.

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2008, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

They are in need of host families for the 2009 season. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and home to a child from the city to give them a fresh air experience.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

T-ball and my team sports anxiety

Well, it is official.

Shea is signed up for T-ball which is the precursor to baseball. The ball sits on the "T" hence "T-ball". Where the heck have I been?

I was never really a team sports kinda gal. Or any kind of sports kinda gal for that matter. And, Molly didn't really take to it either. We had one truly excruciating season trying soccer and both Molly and I decided, "Never again!" Something about the rain and cold, the running, the being kicked in the face with a ball. Those things add up.

So, she likes things like tennis, skating and gymnastics.

But, Shea is a completely different little animal. This kid was practically ready for sports on day one. For all his lack of mouth coordination, he makes up for with acute eye/hand coordinating and pin point accuracy throwing and kicking.

If there ever was a kid where sports may be a saving grace, it just may be Shea.

Because Jake is a sort-of jock strap, I land the team sports duty directly in his lap. So, Friday evenings, after being stuck in a car all day going to see Bubble, Shea will have T-ball practice. Games will probably be on Saturdays.

Jake will take him and hang out. We haven't warned anyone yet about the speech delay. It may not matter in this setting but Jake will be there to translate if necessary.

His theory being that the less said about it, the less of a problem it is. Ok. I will bite and see how it turns out.

Hope he gets on a team with his buddies. But, even if he doesn't, we are hoping and rooting for the best.

Happy Earth Day!

Conifer Pollen and the Neti Pot

You can see the pollen actually floating in the air. It settles like dust on everything.

The car windshield is covered and when I use the wind shield wipers and the squirt, squirt to clean it off it leaves behind a thin yellow paste.

Last night, Jake played tennis. Each time the ball hit the court, there would be an impact mark and a corresponding explosion of pollen.

I wouldn't necessarily know that it is conifer pollen except that Shea brushed against a small pine while we walked in the woods and it puffed out with a large yellow cloud.

Today it is raining lightly, so the pollen settles down and isn't as apparent. But, we are to have clear, warm weather for the next week of so.

Allergy symptoms? Not me. My spring allergies must be something else. Grass? Probably. It hits late May and lasts pretty much all through June. Scratchy eyes, runny nose, itchy sinuses; the whole nine yards. I never had them until I turned about 40, now it is like clockwork every year.

I have tried a variety of naturopathic remedies including the Neti pot. I never thought I would be brave enough to poor liquid up my nose. But, the itchy sinuses were so awful, I gave it a shot. It has to be the most counter intuitive thing to do to yourself but it did actually help. It takes a little practice but I have gotten good at it.

A few tips:

I use a basic saline solution: cup of water and tsp. of salt
Be sure to use warm water, not HOT and definately not COLD
Tip your head slightly away from the neti pot
Do not tip head too far forward or to far back. You will know when it is just right.

It is an acquired skill and does take a little practice. Yes, it is wierd but it does work. And, it is the only thing I have found that sooths my itchy sinuses.

But, honestly, last year it was so bad, I ended up buckling and taking an over the counter allergy medicine anyway. I tried them all and found one that worked for me. I bought a bunch so I could keep it on hand and will probably use it again this year if it is as bad.

There is something pretty horribly debilitating about a good solid month of allergies. And, it's not like I can get away from the grass!

So, we try everything around here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Nice to meet you finally!

When I was pregnant with Shea, we went off island to get the ultrasound done. We decided to take Molly out of school for the day so that she could "see" the baby in my tummy too. Sort of an educational experience. Now, she says she doesn't even remember it.

Miraculously, the ultrasound got a real good shot of in-utero Shea. Such a good shot that you could actually see his face, expression, eyebrows, etc. Uncanny, really.

5 years ago today, he came out of the secret trap door in mommy's tummy. Scheduled C-section due to my first being an emergency C-section.

He was a week early and was covered in that waxy-lotiony covering. Sorry I forget what it is called. But, he was almost completely white with it all over him.

When I first saw Shea, I recognized him from the picture and felt like we were meeting again.

Aha! There you are! Where you been?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dazed and amazed

I am still in shock.

Yesterday, I received a letter from McMurray Middle School informing us of upcoming parents and student orientations, etc.

There has to be some mistake! How did I get on this list? Double take! Miss Molly? Are you going to be in 6th grade next year?

Oy!

After the initial disbelief wore off, I noticed that McMurray seems to have the "big transition" well planned. The middle school counselor visits all the 5th grades classes a couple of times, middle school teachers and band director come to enthuse about how darn cool it all is. There are multiple visits to the school for the kids with next year's 7th grade mentors. And, of course, the parents Q&A evening; "7:00 PM sharp, do not be tardy".

Am I freaked, nervous, jittery? Yes, I am. Why? I am trying to put my finger on it.

There is a general unease about the middle school years in general. Sex, drugs, depression, dangerous behaviors. I remember it well. But, these are more general worries about the age group, less to do with my specific kid.

I do certainly have "my specific kid" worries too. One thing, she is one of the youngest kids in her class. Academically, it has never been a problem. Socially? Maybe a bit. Hard to know. She is resilient and seems to bounce back but there is social stuff going even now that she doesn't seem to fathom. Is it necessary? Maybe not.

Teasing? Bullying? Sort of. But, she sees things very pragmatically. "So-and-so is being nice now. She is not so mean anymore." She feels it is safe to be friendly with that someone now. I think about the manipulative nature of kid-kind and cringe for the inevitable slap.

We certainly can't do it for them. Not that I haven't tried. But, I do vow to be present and aware of what, who and where she is spending her time.

I had a little too much unsupervised time when young. Did I take advantage and pursue risky behavior? You bet your bippy!

Jake kids about being one of the fathers rocking on the front porch with a shotgun waiting for his darling "pumpkin" to get home from a dance. Aside from the shotgun, it is not that far from the truth.

The pendulum does swing back. Both Jake and I had plenty of freedom during those years. We have seen the naughty up close and personal and we have decided that it isn't going to be that way for ours.

This too may backfire. Yet another parental leap of faith, I fear.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday little man!

Busy, busy day. Frosted cupcakes this morning. It turned into a sticky, delicious, messy art project. I tried not to think about people actually eating them after all the handling.

Met up with a herd of kids at the Vashon Theatre for the movie. I spent most of the time trying to unravel 30 balloons strings but the movie (Cars) was a huge success.

Shea sat in the front row with 2 buddies, rooting and grooving at all the vehicular action going on.

Near the end, he jumped up with good pal, Mack, to dance to Route 66. I have to admit I was doing some toe tapping myself as I nursed my cricked neck from sitting too close to the screen.

Yeah! Movie is over, hand out balloons, folks hustled off to enjoy the rest of a beautiful sunny Saturday. We lugged out an indecent pile of presents and headed home for the a fore mentioned cupcakes.

Sugar buzz effecting us all but managed to work some of it off running around outside, doing some weeding, etc. Pretty tired now and watching a movie. Getting ready to hit the sack soon.

Nice day, nice party, nice friends, nice town.

You only turn 5 once!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Do you want to lick the bowl?

Did you lick the bowl when you were a kid? Mmmm, cake batter.

And, remember how we freaked out because of the raw egg? Well, no worries about that this time.

Shea and I made cupcakes tonight. I found a cake mix that is wheat, peanut, dairy, egg free. All you add is water, vanilla and vegetable oil. Some of these mixes can be scary but this one seems ok.

I got frosting too but I thought we could frost and decorate cupcakes with both the kids tomorrow. I got M&M's, Shea's favorite, to decorate.

The cake mix came from a Burlington, MA company called Cherrybrook Kitchen.

Judging by the enthusiasm that Shea cleaned that bowl, we may have found the perfect birthday cake replacement.

I will update with the results.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Potty seat?

Under pressure, Shea mentioned to one of his teachers that he was scared about "falling into" the big potty.

Ok. Maybe he was just saying something to get her off his back. Or maybe he really feels that way.

I have tried a "potty seat" before. You know, the contraption that sits on the regular seat and makes it smaller and more comfy, less precarious. But, Shea didn't have much interest other than disdain or down right disregard for the "prop" and it ended up going away back to Grannie's where it came from.

But, today being Thursday, after dropping off Molly and a friend at the skate park for "girls only day", Shea and I went to Grannie's, our local thrift store, to do a little shopping. Sure enough, in the toy area I spotted a "potty seat" and thought; what the heck? What do I have to loose?

I didn't make a big deal about it. I didn't talk about it. I didn't wave it around in the attempt to make it look enticing. I just sat it on the big potty and left it there.

Sometime after dinner, Shea found it and has been sitting on it all evening. No. He is not sitting on the big potty but the potty seat is "under" Shea where ever he happens to be. At this time, he is parked on the "potty seat" in a green wingback chair playing on PBSkids.org.

You know it has been a tough, long potty training road if I consider that a small victory but somehow I do.

IEP meeting 2009

Just got back from the IEP meeting and it went pretty well. Maybe I am comparing it to last years but this one was a piece of cake in comparison.

The teacher and speech pathologist spent a good chunk of time talking about how far Shea has come this year. How he is participating in class, is enthusiastic, confident, is having fun. It is always nice to hear that sort of thing.

We didn't spend too much time on the decision to keep him back for another year and not do Kindergarten yet. This was a decision that we made a while back, got input way before the meeting and genuinely think it is the best decision for Shea.

What they would like to work on this year is his sequencing. Telling a story. Working on conversational interaction. Basically, what that means is he still seems to "not get it" when a certain cause and effect relationship take place. I am sure this is the motor planning and motor sequencing issues that we have been working on.

But, the teacher gave us a good example: When all the kids are sitting around in a circle and teacher will say, "Ok, everybody with a red shirt can go to the table and work on puzzles now." All the kids will look at their cloths and jump up if they have red on but Shea will just sort of sit there kind of confused. He will look at teacher quizzically and say, "I have red shirt." Teacher will say, "Yes, you do. That means you can jump on up and go play puzzles." "Oh." he says. He finally gets it then.

I have to think that this may just have a lot to do with learning the rules of school. When teacher says this, I do this. When a student does this, I do this. When someone says this, I say this. This is how I visualize the sequenceing issue. It does take Shea a few times to get it but he does eventually get it.

The only really awful news we got today was the beloved teacher won't be around next year. She is quitting after 16 years and going back to school. This is the teacher who was our first point of contact in Early Intervention when Shea was 18 months old. I teared up on the spot. I am glad she is going to challenge herself and grow professionally but I am, selfishly, very sad to loose her next year.

But, the change means there will be an option for mornings or afternoon pre-school next year. This tosses up our plans a bit because we only had the afternoon pre-school option this year.

I may just go with mornings and do something else for the afternoon like circus arts class and swim lessons.

Or maybe he can do both morning and afternoon? If sequencing and practice and repetition is his thing, maybe back to back pre-school would be a good thing?

So, all and all, a good meeting. A little bit of bad news with loosing the teacher. But, basically a pretty postive IEP meeting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The feedbag is "ON"

Shea is clearly making up for lost meals. While sick, he literally ate nothing. I had to force juice down him every hour or so just so he wouldn't get dehydrated.

But, now his appetite is back...with a vengeance.

Shea has always been a picky, light eater but will surge during a growth spurt then level back off.

His extensive food allergies only adds to the craziness.

Protein has always been a challange because he didn't seem to like meats. Something about the texture was too much for him. He is allergic to soy and peanuts. So, we have kept him eating cheese even though he has a whey sensitivity. But, last night for dinner, he arrived an exuberant carnivore. Asking for, eating and asking for more barbecued steak. The first of the outdoor cooking season!

We all marveled as he chowed it down. The texture not seeming to bother him as he chewed it up good.

He is growing fast and he is playing hard. Maybe this is just a passing thing. Or maybe as he gains more control of his mouth he is able to handle and enjoy different food textures.

Hard to know.

But, for now, the feed bag is on and he is a stellar member of the "clean plate club".

No taxers holiday

Creationist Science Fair?

I sure wish I was joking but I am not. See for yourself. It doesn't happen often but I am just speechless.

***First place winner at the Elementary Level: "My Uncle is No Monkey"
Cassidy Turnbull (grade 5) presented her uncle, Steve. She also showed photographs of monkeys and invited fairgoers to note the differences between her uncle and the monkeys. She tried to feed her uncle bananas, but he declined to eat them. Cassidy has conclusively shown that her uncle is no monkey.

***Second place--Middle School Level: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Perspective on "special"

Not everything has changed since I was a kid.

When I was in 5th grade, the boys and the girls voluntarily sat separately during lunch time. Why? Just because.

Well, it isn't much different for my 5th grader but they are now getting pretty close to starting middle school and things start, only just a little bit at first, to look a little different between the boys and girls.

Yesterday for some unknown reason, a few boys came over to sit with Molly and the other girls. Something about getting away from a messy table or some other such excuse. They larked about, making jokes but one boy began being snarky about a 4th grade boy who was not around at the time and calling him a retard.

Molly piped right up and said, "He has autism, he is not retarded just a bit special."

The boys took that in but continued to snark, "He is so special with his specialness." Jokingly, probably not meaning real harm, maybe just intending to amateurishly flirt with the girls, just trying to get their attention in a ham handed pre-pubescent boy sort of way.

My Molly, my wonderful, intuitive, insightful, empathic big sister to Shea said, "You probably shouldn't say that kind of thing around me because my brother is special too and they can't help it."

That stopped them up short. "Is he retarded?", they soberly ask. "No." says Molly.

"Is he autistic?"

"No."

"What's wrong with him?"

"He has a real hard time speaking. He has to work really hard to make the words come out and still they sometimes sound different. He can't help it. He is special."

"How old is he?"

"Almost 5."

"Wow. That must be hard."

And, then they all moved onto other subjects with a bit more knowledge and hopefully a little bit more compassion.

There are times where I would give absolutely anything to be a fly on the wall or an ant on the lunch table. This was one of the those times.

National Friendship Week

I found this out in the ether of cyberspace and just had to share it. And, to all my friends, I sure do appreciate you! XOX

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?


I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about going to lunch in a half hour? She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain...' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet... We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Roller blades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord..

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-Decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now....go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to......not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will under stand why I sent this to you.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butter fly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask ' How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift.......Thrown away..... Life is not a race Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

It's National Friendship Week.. Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND. If it comes back to you, then you'll know you have a circle of friends.

To those I have sent this to.... I cherish our friendship and appreciate all you do.

Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance!

Autistic man seeks NJ Assembly seat

From PolitickerNJ.com:

(Christopher) Gagliardi, a 28-year-old Englewood resident, was born with infantile (sic) autism. Doctors would eventually advise his mother, Lynda Grace Monahan, to put him in a group home and medicate him with Ritalin....

Gagliardi caught the political bug at an early age, attributing it to his mother's involvement in Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign in the 1960's. He wanted to run for governor, but didn't meet the minimum age requirements, and his letter to the Democratic Party expressing interest in being a delegate to the Democratic National Convention was ignored. So Gagliardi figured the legislature was in need of someone who will represent the mentally and physically challenged.

"During the time in the 80's and 90's, people who had challenges were either rejected in society or not recognized for their contributions to society," he said. "But with the recent breakthroughs in civil rights with the physically and mentally challenged, I thought it would be appropriate to stand up and take responsibility."

Gagliardi graduated from Ridgefield Memorial High School in 2002, where he was student council president – the first special education student to ever hold the position, he said.


The bit about the group home reminds me of a line I use when speaking on the subject: Dr. Leo Kanner, who first used the term "autism", told my mom when I was all of 4, "Mrs. KamaAina, your child is autistic. I recommend that you place him in an institution and get on with your life."

Years later, she would eventually heed the learned Dr. Kanner's advice -- but I'm not sure Yale was the sort of institution he had had in mind!

Bartering in this "new" economy

I ran across this article in the Seattle Times about a new networking site call "Dibspace". I know, I know, who needs another networking site? I don't understand, care about or use any of the other ones.

But this one is a little different. It is a bartering network where small business people can "purchase" goods and services with "dibs", a virtual currency. For now, it is Seattle or NW based but seems to be growing. Check it out. You get 100 dibs just for signing up and you would be amazed at the breadth of services offered. Good for them!

Alternate currency seems to be all the rage in this rocky economy. I heard recently that some communities are even printing up their own money. The supply and demand is there but the liquidity is not. What are people to do? Time to get creative.

We have personally tried to do barter before but is seemed to get bogged down in how much service A was worth compared to service B. We equated it with dollar amounts understandably. But, I expect necessity will take it to a different level. I need A, you have it. You need B, I have it. Let's make a deal!

Someone said that this is what happened during the great depression too. Why wouldn't ingenious citizens come up with an alternate commerce when the "real" banks are either stealing us blind or "too big to fail" therefore scarfing up tax payer dollars.

This whole thing has made me look at my life, occupation and stuff in a different way. Do I have something someone would want? Farm produce, tennis lessons, organic apples, small business consulting?

Suddenly, everything is in the bartering realm. And, why shouldn't it? For us, this could be the new age. Some will "get it", some never will. But, if these days tell us anything, it is time to try something new.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A break from Spring break

Wow. We made it through Spring Break; Illness, sun, garden, kids sleeping late, game playing, too many movies.

But we made it!

Now it is back to the schedule which in all honesty I thrive on. The routine. The game plan. Those free wheeling floater days get me down eventually. Too fluid, not enough direction, the time seems to just fritter away.

So, both kids are at school today. And, suddenly I am a whir of activity. Attack my inbox, mail off a bunch of stuff, clear a path in Shea's IEP folder because the IEP meeting is Thursday.

Taking care of business! Back in the saddle again.

Here's to a productive week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!



Or since I am not all that religious; Happy Chocolate Bunny day!

Or perhaps more appropriately; Welcome Spring! Wish I could say we have been patiently waiting for you but thank goodness you are here now!

Oh, and have a chocolate bunny, I sure am.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tea drinker in coffeeland

Coffeeland could be anywhere these days. Can you remember before Starbucks took over the world?

Somehow Seattle has always been a coffee town. I sold fancy coffee and pulled espresso for much of my college years at a local neighborhood shop. I drank and made a lot of coffees.

I remember regularly drinking 2 double lattes when I was working late to close up the store. Did I even sleep back then?

By the time I was shucking and jiving with all the other work a day stiffs in the city, I cued up regularly for my twice a day Grande Americano with the rest of the cities population. I even got to where I was bringing my own cup.

Yes, it is possible to love something like coffee and I do. The taste, the smell; without a doubt my favorite ice-cream: Coffee Oreo. the problem is I just can't drink coffee anymore. It's sad. It upsets my stomach and triggers, almost immediately, the reflux that I have been battling since Molly came along.

Coffee is a hard one to break and it wasn't only habit, after all. It was love. I tried to make do with herbal teas and the such but it was like a benign insult compared to a good cup of joe. I had a new baby! I needed the jolt!

Oh, praise the day I stumbled into the PCC (Puget Consumers Coop) grocery store near my house. Dazed and groggy with "lack of sleep" slowness with an infant in a front pack with , I was approached by a pleasant young woman from Paraguay who asked if I would like to try a Yerba Mate Latte with soy milk.

I must've been stunned or tired enough to say, "What the hell?" And, you know, it was quite delicious and it gave me the jolt of caffeine without the ouchy, acid tummy. I circled around and pumped this woman for more information.

What was this Mate? She spent a good bit of time telling me about the ancient art (!) of Mate drinking, the special gourds the native peoples drink it from and it's healthful benefits.

Sounds good. But, what is it:

"In South America, yerba mate has been revered for centuries as the “drink of the gods” and is drunk daily for optimum health, sustained energy and mental clarity. Of the six commonly used stimulants in the world: yerba mate, coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa, and guarana, yerba mate triumphs as natures most balanced stimulant, delivering both energy and nutrition. The leaves of the rainforest mate tree naturally contain 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, abundant antioxidants. In fact, The Pasteur Institute and the Paris Scientific society in 1964 concluded "it is difficult to find a plant in any area of the world equal to mate in nutritional value" and that yerba mate contains "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life."

Now, I mam quite "religious" about it and drink it every morning. I buy in bulk. I don't fuss with steamed soy milk but take it straight, no sugar in a very big cup. It makes nice sun tea too, add a sprig or two of mint. It's probably an acquired taste. I wouldn't say unpleasant but it's no cup of joe but it works.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spring break illness update

Well, it looks like Shea is on the mended side of this illness. It has been a week!

He is still very thin and pale but he has more energy each day.Yesterday was the first afternoon where he didn't crash on the couch for a nap. He played outside much of the day.

He isn't 100% but he is getting there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The "sick even though it's sunny" blues

Even though the weather is beautiful, Shea is still sick, feverish and hurting on the couch.

We saw the doctor yesterday, no ear infection but a lot of fluid in his ears causing a lot of pressure. She prescribed ear drops; 3 drops in the evening for 3 days.

For a kid who usually has a high tolerance for pain, Shea lays on the couch whimpering. He colapses on top of me and dozes, reminding me of when he was a little tiny thing although he seems such a big boy now.

The fevers seem to spike in the evenings which is the worst time. And, he is somewhat normal in the morning. He spent some time outside yesterday but slow and frail, not his usual exuberant self.

I look at his little face and it is thin and pale. He hasn't really eaten anything since last Friday; just fluids.

The doctor said there was an influenza going around with high temps and body aches. I know that his body will become stronger after he works his way through this. Rationally, I know that he will be fine in a while but for now I feel vulnerable and tense with waiting. Waiting for him to feel better.

Monday, April 6, 2009

So that is my problem!

Did you hear about this? Tofu may raise risk of dementia. And, here I thought it was a good thing to have it every day in my smoothie!

Eating high levels of some soy products - including tofu - may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.

The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java.

The researchers found high tofu consumption - at least once a day - was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s.

The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

Soy products are a major alternative protein source to meat for many people in the developing world.

But soy consumption is also on the increase in the west, where it is often promoted as a "superfood".

Soy products are rich in micronutrients called phytoestrogens, which mimic the impact of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

There is some evidence that they may protect the brains of younger and middle-aged people from damage - but their effect on the ageing brain is less clear.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Favorite NW native plant: Red Flowering Currant

I am no flora photographer but I have to document this plant. This is by fair my favorite NW native shrub. It is a great landscape plant as it is deer resistant. But, it also makes great habitat for birds during the summer and provides fruit for wildlife in the fall and winter.

Love it!

Wiki says:

Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant or Red-flowering Currant) is a species of currant native to western coastal North America from central British Columbia south to central California.

It is a deciduous shrub growing to 4 m tall. The bark is dark brownish-grey with prominent paler brown lenticels. The leaves are 2-7 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with five lobes; when young in spring, they have a strong resinous scent. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as the leaves emerge, on racemes 3-7 cm long of 5-30 flowers; each flower is 5-10 mm diameter, with five red or pink petals. The fruit is dark purple oval berry 1 cm long, edible but with an insipid taste.

Happy birthday! Beautiful blue tractor

You know you're really loosing it when you fall in love with a tractor. But, I have. Jake has too. We both are in love with this tractor.

We live on 5 acres and when I first moved here, I was clueless how much work it would take to handle a piece of property this size. In all honesty, we did pretty good with what we had for 8 long years but we longed for a tractor to broaden the scope.

Neither of us are getting any younger so last year we did it. We made the jump. We made the somewhat epic commitment and haven't looked back since.

Oh yeah,without a doubt, it was pricey but we found a 3 year, no interest deal through the dealer and we are paying it off over time.

Getting the tractor has been transformative. It literally takes minutes to accomplish what used to take hours or days. Or to put it another way; we can now do things we never could before.

So, this year, like everyone else, we are tightening our belts and planting a big garden. I have had little kitchen and herb gardens before but nothing like this. Frankly, I never would have the ambition to take on such a big project without the tractor and a little outside help.

The time is now but where to find that help?

Several weeks ago, I was whining to my GGF (good girl friend) about wishing I could find someone who could help in the garden and take produce for payment. Someone who maybe didn't have any dirt to scratch in and could share mine.

Eureka! She had just gotten an e-mail through the Grower's Association just that week. A person looking for exactly that. Well, life is often serendipitous like that and half the battle is recognizing the opportunity when it smacks you up side the head.

I called him. We met; a very nice guy. About our age, very experience. We all got on well. So, he showed up today for the first time and it was just amazing what we accomplished in a very short amount of time.

The sun was out. The air was warm. We peeled off long sleeves for the first time this year. Just having someone there to help make decisions, plan and get organized was exactly what I needed. The time flew and he is coming back in a few days.

We are nearly finished prepping the beds. We will end up with 10 big 4x12 foot raised beds and that is only the part of the garden that will be ready to plant soon. If we want to do more we can.

There is something beautiful about dirt lined up in tidy rows awaiting seeds. Maybe it is the knowledge of how much work went into getting it that way. I don't know but my back is tired from raking and leveling so, I will just share a couple glam shots of my dirt piles. Ohh...those are some handsome, handsome piles!

Meanwhile, our adored tractor sits waiting patiently for the next previously overwhelming, unachievable project to tackle.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What do your kids like about you?

I always find this humorous.

I wish it was something like my humor or the fun conversations. Or even the fact that Molly and I read together still most nights snuggled into our big bed just us girls. Or the fact, that I will pick her up from school most days because the bus ride is so long, even though we only live about a mile away, and there are boys on her bus that are bugging her. Or that we go to the movies together and eat too much popcorn and candy. You know, those things.

No.

It is my french toast. At least is was this morning. I used to whip out french toast quite a lot. We had laying hens back then, a glut of eggs and both kids loved it. But, now that we know that Shea is allergic to wheat, eggs and milk, french toast has been relegated to the occasional or when Shea is at Gramma's.

I feel bad making something that he can't eat. At least, right in front of him but he is not feeling well this morning, not really eating much and relaxing in front of a movie.

This morning, Molly said, "Can I have french toast, please?" Hopefully, earnestly. How can anyone resist that?

So, I whipped up a batch. The fasted french toast milk batter in the west, bright yellow due to the fabulous fresh eggs from GGF's Stop Sign Farm. I still got it!

"Oh, thank you, thank you, mom!" she says, daintily soaking up every dollop of real maple syrup. "I have missed it so much."

I try to imagine her remembering how she loved my french toast when she is an adult, perhaps making it for her kids. I had heard once that a parent's job is to give their kids happy memories of their childhood.

Does good french toast count? Can't hurt.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Teen commits suicide due to bullying: parents sue school

Bullying is one of my hot buttons. This is such a tragic story and frightening that this kind of bullying could happen in front of teachers without them doing anything about it.

My heart goes out to this family.

From ABC News:

Eric Mohat, 17, was harassed so mercilessly in high school that when one bully said publicly in class, "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you," he did.

Now his parents, William and Janis Mohat of Mentor, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit in federal court, saying that their son endured name-calling, teasing, constant pushing and shoving and hitting in front of school officials who should have protected him.

The lawsuit -- filed March 27, alleges that the quiet but likable boy, who was involved in theater and music, was called "gay," "fag," "queer" and "homo" and often in front of his teachers. Most of the harassment took place in math class and the teacher -- an athletic coach -- was accused of failing to protect the boy.

"When you lose a child like this it destroys you in ways you can't even describe," Eric Mohat's father told ABCNews.com.

The parents aren't seeking any compensation; rather, they are asking that Mentor High School recognize their son's death as a "bullicide" and put in place what they believe is a badly needed anti-bullying program.

Getting sick awful quick

I can usually see the illnesses coming. Shea or Molly will have a few sneezes then the sniffles and pretty soon they are sick but it takes a couple days for it to completely take over.

Today, Shea bounced out of bed his normal spunky self. It was our normal Friday run to Seattle to see Bubble. So, we got the ferry with no problem and took a pre-speech Costco run. Shea was good, flirting with the cashier, checking out books, helping out.

Then as if a ton a brick hit him he was sick. Not barfy, not hot but droopy and tired. He was tuckered all the way to Bubble's house and just wasn't himself.

We tried to have the session anyway because we came all that way but Shea spent most of the time curled up in my lap or hiding under the little table filling his diaper.

Bubble and I had some things to discuss because the IEP meeting is coming right up on us so it was not time wasted. But, on the way back to the ferry Shea slept! In fact, he slept all the way home which is pretty rare.

And, by the time we got him home he was hot, real hot. 101 degrees! Dose him quick. And, wierdly he was whimpering and holding his left cheek. I asked him what hurt and he pointed to his left cheek. What? Inside or outside? Not his ear but his cheek. What could that be?

Of course, it is Friday evening so a doctor's appointment is pretty much not on the books until tomorrow at the earliest.

We'll keep an eye on him, keep the fever down and pump him full of liquids. But, this one just came out of the blue.

Just when you think you are trotting along at a pretty good pace, bang, schedule change the kid is sick.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April is Autism awareness month: #1

Meet Rory. He has something to share with you.

Math is cool

Here we go again.

Word just came down the pike. Molly was chosen for the 5th grade Math is Cool team scheduled to compete on April 24th. They were chosen from a series of tests and competition over the past couple of weeks.

Pretty stressful actually. Last year they just chose names out of a hat. Molly didn't know if she had a good chance or not. I suspected but kept my mouth shut.

There are 16 kids chosen for the competition with 2 alternates out of 30 kids total.

Molly, while she was anxiously waiting to hear the final picks, figured out the chances of her being chosen.

18 out of 30 or 3/5 or 60%

Pretty good odds actually.

Good luck to Molly and the whole team.

Teaching to the test



Need we say more?

Check out the website.

Birthday season and the joy of cupcakes

Must be a popular time of the year to born! Birthdays, birthdays, everywhere birthdays these days.

Because my kid is allergic to pretty much everything birthday treat related except chocolate (thank god!), we are spending a lot of time these days trying to run interference.

Cupcakes at school are common. And, who could blame them! It is so fun to bring treats for all your school buddies but, of course, Shea is allergic to cupcakes. To be specific wheat, gluten, eggs, soy, whey, rye, barley, peanuts. It has to be a pretty creative cupcake to not have any of those things in it.

Alas.

We have had a few slip ups where the teacher forgot to warn us and he ate the contraband cupcake. Sure enough, that weird swoony, head rolling, keening, distracted Shea swims back to us out of the gluten fog. It only takes a day or two for him to normalize but it sure does remind us why we go through the enormous hassle of his wheat/gluten free diet.

But, the teachers, bless their hearts, are well trained now. Tomorrow; another cupcake fest will happen. I will supply a special "sanctioned" treat for Shea to eat. I doubt if it will bother him too much although it might. If I was a fly on the wall I would be able to find out for sure. Tempting. He loves these WOW cookies that I have profiled before and he'll get a whole one to himself. So, I hope he will not complain too much or feel left out.

So, obviously no cupcakes for his birthday which is barreling right down on us. What is it about kids birthdays? Man, we pile on the goodies. Why? Because it is fun, that is why!

We have decided to rent the Vashon Theatre for the party. We can invite 30 pals who will get a popcorn/candy/drink combination as we watch the movie "Cars". Where else would you feel brave enough to invite 30 4 and 5 year olds? Needless to say, no cupcakes. After the movie, I will give all the kids a little gift bag or maybe a balloon tied to some bubbles soap and then Adios!

We will come back to our house and have a gluten free cake of my making, sing the famous song, blow out 5 candles, play with the haul of new toys that he doesn't need and remember back to exactly 5 years ago this very minute.

It will be fun. There will be chocolate. And, there will be memories.

Happy birthday, indeed.
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